Malaysia watching US-China trade clash

By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

Malaysia remains engaged with ministries from the US and China to monitor and reach out for solutions on the ongoing trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong (picture) said the US and China are Malaysia’s major source of trade and investments and a trade war between them would put a strain on the Malaysian economy.

“This trade war does not only have a negative impact on trade in Malaysia, but also on other countries involved in the importing and exporting of goods from both the US and China,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Chua was responding to Bandar Tun Razak MP Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim who asked on the government’s move in dealing with trade tensions between China and the US.

“Malaysia, as well as other Asean countries, will play a role in looking at and addressing this situation,” the minister noted.

Meanwhile, in the Dewan Negara, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong said the government is expecting an adverse impact from the ongoing trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Lee noted that the impact from the trade war is inevitable, given Malaysia is a small trade-dependent economy. “The trade spat continues to brew rapidly, but the government is often proactive in facing such an issue to ensure a continuous positive growth,” he said. Lee was responding to a query from Senator Datuk Yong Wui Chung who asked to what extent would a trade war between China and the US impact the economic growth of Malaysia.

Lee said the actual impact is still too early to be analysed in detail.

US President Donald Trump’s move to impose sweeping tariffs on US$50 billion (RM193.5 billion) worth of imports from China has raised concerns on the potential domino effect on other countries.

Being an export-reliant economy, Lee said there is no doubt Malaysia could also be hit with unfavourable impacts, both directly and indirectly, but the structure of the local economy could minimise any impacts.

“The government has introduced a national transformation agenda, particularly the Economic Transformation Programme aimed at putting the economy in a stronger position and ensuring the economy is resilient and competitive,” he added.

Lee noted the transformation programme includes diversifying sources of growth, fiscal reforms and measures to ensure a sound and stable financial system.